Is solar energy an economic option for small farms?

-The 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture (released in February 2024), reports that 72% of California’s approximately 70,000 farms are small family farms operating 50 or fewer acres. Small family farms face some unique challenges in keeping their gates open and in delivering their products and services at a reasonable profit level. The bottom line is always a consideration for any agribusiness, even for small farmers.

The solar installation team from San Luis Obispo’s Electricraft, Inc., outlines some important ways that solar energy plays a role in small farm operations for cost savings, energy independence, and versatility and productivity.

Cost savings and energy independence

The first, and most obvious is the cost savings resulting from generating the energy your farm needs. The economic savings can be significant if you choose a hybridized solar system or go completely off-grid.

Along with reducing the cost of energy, converting to solar energy reduces reliance on the grid and the vulnerability to power outages and price increases.

Just about every farm operation benefits from solar energy:

  • Residential energy needs such as cooking, hot water, electricity to power electronics, lights, and more.
  • Water pumps and irrigation systems.
  • Electrical power to barns, stables, workshops, processing sheds, and more.
  • EV charging.

Anything that can be powered from the grid can be powered by solar. When planned, designed, and installed by an experienced solar installation team based near your farm, you can be confident of getting the best return on your solar investment.

Where available, federal and state tax incentives can reduce the cost of installing solar, and substantially increase return on investment over time. Check with the local farm bureau for information about tax incentives. Solar panels can provide a consistent source of clean energy for 25-30 years with minimal maintenance.

Versatility and productivity

Agrivoltaic systems are proving to bring a new level of versatility to farming and productivity. The land under the solar panels once believed to be wasted land, is finding usefulness for various crops, animal grazing, and parking and storage space for farm equipment, supplies, and materials.

The agricultural uses include:

  • Growing pollinator crops.
  • Growing crops that flourish with less direct sun.
  • Grazing and enhancing wildlife corridors.
  • Housing animals.
  • Covered parking and storage.

Selling energy back to the power company is also an option worth exploring as is the possibility of leasing land to energy companies.

Work with the experts

Transitioning to solar energy aligns with environmental sustainability and stewardship practiced by many farmers. Solar is a clean, renewable energy source that helps reduce the impact of climate change and preserves natural resources.

Working with a local company like Electricraft, Inc., that is committed to local communities can make sure that the solar needs for your farm are met. Installing solar systems is more than just installing solar panels and connecting the electrical systems. It requires a knowledge of local environments, weather, and seasons that can only come with a long-standing local company.

Electricraft, Inc. is a local family-owned company serving local communities since 1984. The team of electricians and solar installers live in San Luis Obispo County and are committed to the success of the families who are their neighbors.

The Electricraft team is experienced, highly skilled, and certified for all phases of solar installation projects, including:

  • Site visits to determine the best placement for the solar panels and evaluate electrical systems
  • Creating design plans, selecting the best panels for the job, and obtaining permits
  • Installation and inspections
  • Operating your new system

Get started today!